Former Heat star Udonis Haslem’s heartwarming reaction to getting jersey retired by team

Haslem joins five other former Heat players to have their jersey retired.

Former Miami Heat player Udonis Haslem in front of the Kaseya Center.

Despite the Miami Heat losing Friday night to the Atlanta Hawks, the organization celebrated the legacy of Udonis Haslem by retiring his jersey up to the rafters of the Kaseya Center. He is the sixth former Heat player to have his jersey retired along with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Shaquille O'Neale, Alonzo Mourning, and Tim Hardaway.

“Look at the list of the guys I’m sitting with,” Haslem said during his halftime speech. “That’s what’s huge to me. That’s what makes me feel so amazing is the core group of guys that I’m sitting with. Pat Riley ain’t just putting anybody up there. The Arisons ain’t just OK’ing anybody to go up in those rafters.”

Haslem says he “earned” this moment

Former Miami Heat player Udonis Haslem in front of the Kaseya Center.

Haslem's journey has been well-documented, but it is truly one to behold. He bleeds Florida through and through after being raised in Miami, going to the University of Florida, being un-drafted out of college, and playing for the Heat for 20 years. He is one of three players in NBA history to stay on one team for at least 20 years with the others being Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki.

“I earned it. It was not given,” Haslem said. “I had to work twice as hard just to have a seat at the table. So to finally see that, I hope that there’s somebody that can relate to this because I think all of us have been in situations where somebody has told us what we can’t do or what we’re not capable of, put a cap on us.”

Despite most likely not being able to go into the Hall of Fame like the other five players who had their jersey retired did, he has the most rebounds in Heat history with rebounds and ranks among the team in all-time leaders in games played (second), minutes (second), and field goals made (fifth). His impact on and off the court speaks volumes as there were all-time faces of the Heat organization there to celebrate Haslem.

“Liberty City, Overtown, Little Havana, Little Haiti, everybody, tonight when this jersey goes up in the rafters, all of y’all coming with me,” Haslem said. “The love y’all show me in this city, I love you guys, I appreciate you guys. …. 305, you got to hold it up. You got to hold up the 305. Tonight, we all celebrate, 305.”

Bam Adebayo is “sick” they lost on the special night for Haslem

The Heat won't totally lose their long-time captain as he took a front office role as Vice President of Player Development. He's been a mentor to so many, including star Bam Adebayo who said to ClutchPoints after the game to the Hawks that he is “sick” they lost since Haslem “embodies winning.”

“I'm sick we lost this game. Just because he embodies winning,” Adebayo said. “…And you know, you take stuff like that to heart and you come up with this type of game and you lose on a special night like this, especially for a guy that's un-drafted, three championships with the same organization for 20 years. He's an anomaly. He's one of those people who they don't come around often because it's not a lot of opportunity in this league for guys like that. For him to have this moment I'm blessed to be a part of blessed that he's my OG but I'm really down we lost this game on this night.”

Jimmy Butler said Haslem “should be an inspiration to so many”

Another star in Jimmy Butler also expressed his gratitude for Haslem and what he accomplished with Miami. He said to ClutchPoints how glad he is that his jersey is getting retired and the long-time player should be an inspiration to many.

“I'm happy for him, everything he's done for this organization, for this city, for the game of basketball. He should be an inspiration to so many,” Butler said. “Just because people always count you out or view you lesser and you can be great if you embrace your role and be a star in that role. I think he's taught everybody something different, something special, which it is only right that number never be worn again here.”

The Heat are now 24-18 which puts them seventh in the Eastern Conference. They have dropped two straight games to losing teams as their next test is against the Orlando Magic on the road Sunday.